If you’re wondering what makes The Philippines world famous you’ve come to the right place.
Things the Philippines is famous in the world for: It’s friendly people, endless festivals, beautiful beaches, great weather nearly year round, low cost of living, the world’s top shopping malls, widespread use of the English language, and having one of the new 7 natural wonders of the world
The Philippines has over 1,000 annual festivals, known as fiestas, per year. Known as fiestas you can pretty much find a festival here at any time somewhere in the country. Most of them are rooted in Christianity dating back to the Spanish colonial period when the towns each had a patron saint assigned to them.
The Largest festivals in the country are celebrated nationwide and are considered national holidays. These festivals are: Holy Week and Christmas. The biggest festivals are:
- Ati-atihan Festival (January 9 to 15 – Kalibo, Aklan)
- Sinulog Festival (January 15 – Cebu City)
- Dinagyang Festival (January 24 – Iloilo City)
- Pahiyas Festival (May 11-15 – Lucban, Quezon)
- Parada ng Lechon (June 24 – Balayan, Batangas)
- Panagbenga Festival (February 1 to March 5 – General Santos City)
- Masskara Festival (October 19 – Bacolod City)
- Aliwan Grand Fiesta (April 20 to 22 – Metro Manila)
Fiestas in the Philippines can be religious, cultural, or both. Several of these are held to honor the local Roman Catholic patron saint, to commemorate local history and culture, to promote the community’s products, or to celebrate a bountiful harvest. They can be marked by Holy Masses, processions, parades, theatrical play and reenactments, religious or cultural rituals, trade fairs, exhibits, concerts, pageants and various games and contests.
However, festivals in the country are not limited to Christian origins. Many festivals also focus on Islamic or indigenous concepts. There are more than 42,000 known major and minor festivals in the Philippines, the majority of which are in the barangay (neighborhood) level. Due to the thousands of town, city, provincial, national, and village fiestas in the country, the Philippines has traditionally been known as the Capital of the World’s Festivities.
Unlike the United States where shopping malls are in decline; the mall culture in The Philippines is alive and thriving! Social life in The Philippines centers around the mall for many Filipinos. It’s a bit surprising seeing as the average income here is just US$300 per day.
Did you know that out the top 10 largest shopping malls in the world, three are found in the Philippines: SM Megamall, SM North Edsa, and the SM Seaside City Cebu. Together these malls cover of 15,524,720 square feet or 1,442,251 square meters of land with over 2,700 shops! source: wikipedia
With Boracay, El Nido Palawan, and many others the Philippines is one of the top beach destinations in the world. That being said between Boracay and Palawan, Palawan is the clear choice. El Nido Palawan is currently ranked #4 in Condé Nast Traveler‘s list of “20 Most Beautiful Beaches in the World.” CNNGo has called it the Best Beach and Island destination in the Philippines for its “extraordinary natural splendor and ecosystem. One of the best beach cities in The Philippines is Coron, Palawan. This is the place for beautiful pristine beaches. There are several attractions in Cron. The first is Kayangan Lake. It is said to be one of the clearest lakes in all of Asia. It truly is one of the must stunning places on the entire planet. That’s why it’s no surprise that Kayangan Lake and the nearby viewpoint are one of the most photographed places in all of the Philippines. You can also get a rent a raft ride. Browse tours.
The best beaches in The Philippines
- Coron, Palawan
- El Nido, Palawan
- Boracay Island, Aklan
- Panglan, Bohol
- Kalanggaman Island, Leyte
- Gigantes, Iloilo
- Apo Island, Negros Oriental
- Honda Bay Islands, Palawan
- Pagudpud, Ilocos Norte
- Sarangani Islands, Davao Occidental
The Underground River
The Puerto Princesa Subterranean River National Park, known colloquially as simply “the underground river”, is a natural river inside a cave that drains into the South China Sea. The river is a world-famous site receiving a UNESCO Heritage Site designation in 1999 and was declared one of the New 7 Natural Wonders of The World in 2012. The river is approximately 15 miles long with 5 of those miles being underground. It is the second longest underground river in the world. You can get a full tour that includes the underground river and zip lining for under $30 per person.
Widespread Use of English
At this point, English is pretty much the international travel language despite the fact that it’s not the most widely spoken language in the world. That’s why a country where the majority of the locals speak English has a leg up over ones that don’t. One reason many people chose to visit and retire to The Philippines is because English is so widely spoken here.
According to the 2000 Census of Population and Housing conducted by the Philippine National Statistics Office, the most recent source of national language statistics, 63.7% of Filipinos over the age of 5 reported an ability to speak English. In comparison, 96.4% of Filipinos reported speaking Tagalog, just one of more than 150 recognized languages and dialects spoken in homes across the Philippines.
English prevalence is concentrated in the metropolitan areas of Manila, Cebu, and Davao. However almost everyone understands English at some level. That being said in many rural areas of the country many locals can’t even read their local language.
The English language is the language of the government as most government documents are in English as are most road signs. While you can find some locally produced television shows most of the shows will be in Taglish–a combination of Tagalog and English. Most of your online news sources are also in English although many of them will not translate the quotes used in their articles. In other words since so many people here speak English it’ll be easy to make friends here!
Related: Important Tagalog Phrases
Low Cost of Living
One of the top reasons people choose to retire or visit The Philippines is, of course, the low cost of living. You can rent a nice home here for under US$200 a month in the provinces. The cost of living in the expat areas of Manila are expensive but elsewhere in the country, it’s very cheap. Compare that to New York city with an average monthly rent of $2,000 per month or $346 in Bangkok.